We took a train about an hour and a half from Schio, where I am currently staying, in northern Italy. As soon as I walked out of the walls of the train station in Venice, I was immediately presented with a view I had never seen anything like before in my life. A city built on water? I grabbed my camera before I could think of doing anything. Of course after the obligatory chocolate pastry (panini al cioccolato) I juggled in the other hand. The sky was soft and blue and the air was filled with that early morning motivation and exhilarating unknown potential. The buildings were shades of pale hues with a bright attitude. The water of the canals changed through various tones of blue and green to the suns reflection as the day went on.
There were bridges all over, big and small. From one block to the next block, from the sidewalk into someones home, from one narrow street to a narrower street. All I could imagine was how the lifestyle of living somewhere like this feels. To be forced to walk from place to place, or of course by bicycle or boat (sigh). To wake up in the morning and open those classic Italian push out windows and walk onto a tiny balcony covered in vines you’ve grown for years staring at the cobblestone streets below you.
We admired the Piazza San Marco from the roof of the Basilica Cattedrale. We were not allowed to photograph inside (besides the oh so rebellious secret smartphone shot), so I tried my best to capture the outside as the inside of the Basilica appeared to my eyes. Large in size, yet specific and dense in texture and detail. This Piazza seemed like something out of a movie (which it probably is, I just have no recollection). Unreal to be this old and still standing. Unreal to be this heavy in beauty and overwhelming in size. Unreal that my life’s journey had brought me to this point.
We climbed back down the steep staircase and ate our packed lunches on a bench in the sun to save money on food. We watched the tourists, like tourists do, fed some of our lunch to the birds and headed towards the water.
I tossed the idea of riding the gondola back and fourth. Spend the money or save the money? Which led me to another thought; have the experience or don’t have the experience? Easy choice at that point. Maybe I’ll be in Venice again in my life, maybe I won’t. But if I won’t, I have learned quickly enough throughout my travel experience that it is usually better to spend the money and have the experience than to not. That’s why you travel right? Is it expensive? Yes. But so is a night out, a couple of new outfits, a month’s worth of coffee here and there, getting your hair done, a day at the spa, that new item for your house you just can’t live without, dinner this night and breakfast that morning. All of these things, and more, I have had to train myself into not “needing”. I wear the same clothing for months, of course with the assistance of laundry detergent, I haven’t gotten my hair done in years, yes including a trim and long-overdue proper hair brushing, and much more. However, I can always make more money, I can’t just hop on a gondola and ride through the canals of Venice whenever I want.
With that being said, of course there are feelings of remorse drooling over all of the material items I wish I could fill a box with. Gorgeous dark-amber hand-sewn leather boots that smell like buyers remorse, gigantic soft plaid scarves that are basically a blanket to wrap your body in and keep warm to remain outside longer to explore, amazingly tacky Venice sailor hats that your Italian boyfriend looks like a dream in, thousands of adorable souvenirs to decorate your keyring and cover your fridge with of memories, and vibrant and wildly decorated Venetian masks that would never deserve to be hidden in a suitcase traveling.
These things would never of been able to be purchased if it weren’t for the experience of literally being there, so at some point it is necessary to learn self-control and realize the experience and the story are more valuable. Let yourself indulge at times, but learn to be content without.
I love to wander these streets and follow where my heart desires with no plan or route in mind. I have been to many cities, but none are similar to Italy and its maze-like essence that always seems to intrigue me. Italy’s unique characteristics are simply it being Italy itself. I have never seen construction or architecture like this in my life, so much so that I don’t even know the words to properly describe. Every piece of almost every building has so much character to it. Everything from the windows and doors to the window moldings and the doorknobs. They seem like a painting, or something you have seen in textbooks and movies, like it is an unreachable world.
After hours of exploring, we realized we were either going to make our last train in the nick of time, or we were going to have a long night ahead of us. We ran to a grocery store and grabbed enough sandwich fixings (with the added random jar of pickled veggies) and hopped on the boat to take us to the train station. The train took us to Vicenza to then transfer to a bus, the last bus. We ran all over looking for the bus, hopping over fences, twice, just to realize it was in the exact place we predicted (but was told otherwise by a very unhelpful jackass). We made it 30 seconds late, but ended up getting the ride for free. We were awoken in Schio by the bus driver with that alarming feeling of, “where the hell am I?”.
Nevertheless, this wonderfully picturesque city left me in an inspiring awe.